The whole area of London between Edgware Road and Marylebone High Street seems to be full of Arabic and Middle Eastern restaurants and I had already enjoyed excellent Moroccan and Turkish meals. So I was keen to see if the Levant Lounge on Wigmore Street would live up to my experience of the previous two nights. I was not disappointed: the sumptuous décor and delicious Lebanese food made this a meal to remember.
Sumptuous Furnishings of the Levant Lounge
It was our second visit to the Levant Lounge. The first time we had found the loud music and aggressive belly dancing rather off-putting, but arriving early in the evening (they serve food from 5 o’clock) we had the place to ourselves. I was immediately struck by how this place reminded me of restaurants I had visited on the Arabian Peninsula, with its low light and opulent red and gold furnishings. And, of course, what I always think of as Arabic pop music, although not too loud at this time of day.
The menu has all the things you would expect in a Lebanese restaurant, and one or two less common items. I was pleased to see a range of vegetarian dishes, even if a little disappointed that there was no vegetarian option in the long list of tagines. And, unlike most restaurants on the Arabian Peninsula, there is a variety of alcoholic drinks as well, including a separate list of cocktails.
Excellent Lebanese Food
The service was good and friendly and it was not long before our starters arrived. We had kibbé la’kteen (deep fried pumpkin and cracked wheat parcels) and sambusak bil jbneh (pastries with cheese and mint). They arrived with a mint and yoghurt dip and puffy Arabic bread – both were tasty and I enjoyed having a vegetarian kibbeh rather than the more usual meaty version.
The main courses were marinated tiger prawns and halloumi steak. Lawrence pronounced his prawns “excellent” and appreciated the fact that he had been given a finger bowl to use after peeling them (a detail sometimes overlooked by restaurants). My halloumi was equally good and was accompanied by a mound of quinoa stuffed with vegetables with a nice minty flavour. My only slight criticism was that I would have preferred less cheese and more vegetables.
Time for Dessert
The dessert menu was not offered automatically but it arrived quickly when I requested it. I ordered the mint tea with “baclava, pistachios and turkish delight”, expecting a small plate of sweets. I was totally unprepared for the feast that arrived – a stack of four plates of pastries, turkish delight and fruit. We wished that we hadn’t also ordered the cheesecake (although it was delicious). Fortunately the server offered to box up what we could not eat so that we could take it away with us (it made a good breakfast the following morning!).
The meal was not cheap, but overall it was a great experience. I will be going back!